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Conyers' bill asks $40 billion for aid to cities, towns.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, and 22 other representatives last week introduced HR 3601, the Local Partnership Act of 1991 and urged early action by the Congress.

The bill would authorize $40 billion in targeted fiscal assistance by formula to 39,000 cities and towns and other units of local government to pay for unfunded federal mandates and to meet these communities' highest priorities over the next 6 years.

It would start with $2 billion for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 1993, and then increase by $3 billion per year through 1998.

A subcommittee markup of the legislation could take place as early as next week.

Funds under the legislation would be allocated to cities and towns based upon the per capita income of the locality, the unemployment rate in the state, and ratio of local taxes relative to local taxpayers' incomes.

NLC President Sidney Barthelemy had written to all members of the committee urging co-sponsorship of the bill:

"We believe the legislation is critical to ensure investment in the human and physical future of the citizens in our communities, to halt the escalating disparities between communities and families, and to help meet the extraordinary costs of unfunded federal mandates."

Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee, scheduled a hearing for this week at which NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and mayors of nearly a dozen cities were invited to testify.

According to Weiss, "the fiscal plight of the nation's local governments has grown to proportions unparalleled in fifty years. Across the country it is commonplace to hear of cutacks in services of the most essential activities, including public safety, education, health and welfare."

The legislation is similar to the former General Revenue Sharing program which the president and Congress terminated in 1986, although it includes modifications to factor in the state level of unemployment. It would also eliminate the old ceilings and floors. This would better target funds by removing artificial limits for the most severely distressed cities and towns, while removing the guarantee of minimum amounts for non-distressed localities.
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Title Annotation:Representative John Conyers
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 28, 1991
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